I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.

~ Bruce Lee


I love people who are like Mimi and I simply like to be Eunice in the strip above. The lower other people’s expectations of me, the happier I am as I am not quite the meet very high expectations type. The one single person who had expectations of me, my late mother, had just ordinary expectations and so it was relatively easy for me to come up to them. That in some cases, due to sheer luck or as others point out, being in the right place at the right time with the right credentials, I surpassed her expectations and it was a joy for her worth beholding.  On the other hand, I never had to let her down as she did not expect too much!

I have seen a lot of others with high expectations of themselves, their spouses and / or their children and having seen what happens to them, I would rather not have any at all. That way there are no disappointments and recriminations.

My readers will naturally ask if I don’t have expectations of myself. In all honesty, I can say that I don’t other than the one simple expectation that all of us have; to go when the time comes without pain and suffering. I do not have great expectations of anyone else in my life either and that makes it very simple for a peaceful and relatively stress free life.

How about you?

This topic was suggested by me for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium (LBC) where currently six of us write on the same topic every Friday. I hope that you enjoy my contribution to that effort.  The five other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaMaxi, and Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!

Be Like Water.


Bruce Lee’s most oft-cited metaphor for the philosophy of Gung Fu: “Be like water.” is a metaphor difficult to understand.

It has now been explained by his writings in Bruce Lee; Artist Of Life.

It is so beautiful that I want to share it with all my readers.

“When my acute self-consciousness grew to what the psychologists refer to as the “double-bind” type, my instructor would again approach me and say, “Loong, preserve yourself by following the natural bends of things and don’t interfere. Remember never to assert yourself against nature; never be in frontal opposition to any problems, but control it by swinging with it. Don’t practice this week: Go home and think about it.”

(And so he did, spending the following week at home.)

After spending many hours meditating and practicing, I gave up and went sailing alone in a junk. On the sea I thought of all my past training and got mad at myself and punched the water! Right then – at that moment – a thought suddenly struck me; was not this water the very essence of gung fu? Hadn’t this water just now illustrated to me the principle of gung fu? I struck it but it did not suffer hurt. Again I struck it with all of my might – yet it was not wounded! I then tried to grasp a handful of it but this proved impossible. This water, the softest substance in the world, which could be contained in the smallest jar, only seemed weak. In reality, it could penetrate the hardest substance in the world. That was it! I wanted to be like the nature of water.

Suddenly a bird flew by and cast its reflection on the water. Right then I was absorbing myself with the lesson of the water, another mystic sense of hidden meaning revealed itself to me; should not the thoughts and emotions I had when in front of an opponent pass like the reflection of the birds flying over the water? This was exactly what Professor Yip meant by being detached – not being without emotion or feeling, but being one in whom feeling was not sticky or blocked. Therefore in order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.”

Quoting from Lao Tzu’s famous teachings, Lee writes:

“The natural phenomenon which the gung fu man sees as being the closest resemblance to wu wei [the principle of spontaneous action governed by the mind and not the senses] is water:

Nothing is weaker than water, But when it attacks something hard Or resistant, then nothing withstands it, And nothing will alter its way.”

The above passages from the Tao Te Ching illustrate to us the nature of water: Water is so fine that it is impossible to grasp a handful of it; strike it, yet it does not suffer hurt; stab it, and it is not wounded; sever it, yet it is not divided. It has no shape of its own but molds itself to the receptacle that contains it. When heated to the state of steam it is invisible but has enough power to split the earth itself. When frozen it crystallizes into a mighty rock. First it is turbulent like Niagara Falls, and then calm like a still pond, fearful like a torrent, and refreshing like a spring on a hot summer’s day. So is the principle of wu wei:

The rivers and seas are lords of a hundred valleys. This is because their strength is in lowliness; they are kings of them all. So it is that the perfect master wishing to lead them, he follows. Thus, though he is above them, he follows. Thus, though he is above them, men do not feel him to be an injury. And since he will not strive, none strive with him.”



Unforeseen Circumstances.

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Maria the Silver Fox, Padmum , Rohit, Will knot, and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get thirteen different flavours of the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by gaelikaa.

“It’s true that we don’t know what we’ve got until we lose it, but it’s also true that we don’t know what we’ve been missing until it arrives.”
~ Unknown Author

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Unforeseen circumstances happen because we project our current state of mind to the future, without taking into account all possibilities that are likely to influence the future. For instance, when I was planning for my retirement, possibilities of illness and care-giving responsibilities were never in my wildest dreams. Actual retirement therefore, became unforeseen circumstances for me ten years ago, and during all the ten years, I have continued to believe in the beauty of my dreams and know that they will come true. I have however factored in unforeseen developments to throw a few spanners in the works and am prepared to face the unforeseen developments too.

That is wisdom by hindsight. Unfortunately, I keep coming across people who keep on imagining futures full of joy and happiness based on their current situations and imagining that when the current situation changes to what the future promises or is hoped for, to be, they will be in Valhalla. When that does not happen, disappointment sets in and whymeitis sets in. The frequency with which I come across, “if only” predictions remain precisely that, wishful thinking.

For instance, I just met a newly married young lady who went against the wishes of her parents to marry a colleague, only to find the man an unpleasant oaf in the mornings, and to add insult to her injury has changed his mind about finding a place of their own and insists on staying with his parents. From all accounts, perhaps one sided, but all that I am privy to, the mother in law is a termagant. I doubt that the couple will see their first wedding anniversary. Was it really unforeseen? Could the very troublesome situation have been avoided by some careful investigations prior to the marriage?

Unforeseen circumstances are so, precisely because they were unforeseen. If only we can visualize the future with some built in variations, our disappointments will be that much less. But I am afraid, human beings are not programmed that way. And, there is also the high improbabilities of forecasts coming true one hundred percent; and we never seem to learn from such failures to forecast accurately. This too is a peculiar human condition and I am not an expert to comment on why this is so, but am just making an observation.

I think that I would rather be like Bruce Lee who said – “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

And look what happened to him! He died at the age of 32, at the peak of his career and popularity. The official cause of death was acute cerebral edema (swelling of the brain) brought about by a hypersensitivity to aspirin. Bruce’s brain was found to have swollen from a normal 1,400 grams to a lethal 1,575 grams.